Film Review: “Fall”
This is the story of Father Sam an aging Catholic Priest (brilliantly played by veteran actor Michael Murphy) who lives a quiet and somewhat boring life in a small Canadian town close to Niagara Falls. He seems to just go through the motions of attending to his parishioners, and his lonely and solitary existence is only interrupted by phone calls from his sister asking for support for their frail elderly mother.
However his peace is suddenly shattered when out of the blue he receives a letter from a man who claims that 40 years ago, when he was a 14 year old boy in Father Sam’s old parish, he behaved inappropriately with him. The charges are very vague to say the least but they nevertheless rattle Father Sam who drives all the way North to confront his accuser but chickens out at the last moment when he arrives at his house.
He does later discover that Christopher his accuser (Adrian Gabrylewicz) is dying, and when he actually ‘passes’ Father Sam receives another letter from his widow enclosing a $20 bill asking that he say a Mass for Christoper. This time when Father Sam drives back up to the house to specifically pay his condolences, he is met by an outraged widow who knew about the accusations made by her husband as she was the one who wrote the original letter.
The filmmaker Terrance Odette certainly doesn’t make light of the situation, but he does nevertheless take some pains to ensure that it is however not interpreted as one of the (sadly too) usual Catholic priest pedophile scandals. He implies that this was possibly a momentary lapse from a seemingly decent man and whilst what occurred was a betrayal of trust and abuse of his authority, it was on the scale of things, almost innocent (if that is such a possibility in these cases).
Between Odette’s script/direction and Murphy’s portrayal, Father Sam comes off as the one we feel we should sympathize with, which may make for good drama, but it is also one that will certainly disturb anyone who has ever been the victim of any abuse at all.